SEC's 10 best matchups in Week 12
Week 12 might not look like much on paper, and the SEC is hearing plenty about that, but the buildup sure has been fun.
The week’s highlights included Nick Saban’s epic history lesson about how dangerous FCS teams can be and analysts openly putting the Les Miles era on a stopwatch.
Let’s hope Saturday is just as entertaining. We think these 10 matchups will be, beginning with a can’t-miss battle in Oxford:
1. Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell vs. LSU CB Tre’Davious White: The only thing that has slowed Treadwell this season is last week’s bye. He’s riding a five-game streak in which he has topped 100 yards receiving and added a touchdown reception.
A recent Bleacher Report mock draft had Treadwell going No. 1 overall in the 2016 draft, and White going No. 16. With Ole Miss isolating Treadwell in its familiar 3-1 scheme, we’ll get plenty of one-on-one matchups.
Congratulations, Laquon Treadwell of Ole Miss for selection as a 2015 Biletnikoff Award Semifinalist! @OleMissFB
— Biletnikoff Award (@biletnikoffawrd) November 17, 2015
2. Embattled LSU O Line vs. Ole Miss D Line: Much of the focus will be on OT Vadal Alexander vs. DE Marquis Haynes, but the battle is bigger than that. Les Miles all but called out his O Line after back-to-back subpar performances, describing their recent play as “a flat spot.”
Ole Miss has a star-studded front four that starts with Robert Nkemdiche and includes Haynes. Their pass rush won’t matter nearly as much as their ability to fill gaps and extend Leonard Fournette’s string of sub-100-yard games.
3. Alabama coach Nick Saban vs. Looking ahead: Alabama is 7-0 against FCS teams under Saban, and most of the games, predictably, have been blowouts. So while everybody already is looking past Charleston Southern (9-1) to the Tide’s annual Iron Bowl matchup against Auburn, Saban most definitely is not.
He explained why in a classic lecture during his weekly presser. The video is well worth your 3 minutes. He reminded reporters that Charleston Southern has a former Division I QB (Austin Brown), who plays like a Division I QB.
And then he dropped an epic history lesson, about the dangers of taking opponents too lightly.
He asked whether anybody remembered the Tide’s 2011 game against Georgia Southern. The Tide won 45-21 but allowed 302 rushing yards. In colorful language, Saban explained how his defense, with all of its future NFL players, had no chance to stop their run game.
“Could not stop them,” Saban said. “Could not stop them.”
Safe to say the current D-Line has seen the tape and heard the same message.
Nick Saban on: supposed cupcakes,the option,and marriage.Unintended comedy! "Aight" with that? Thx @abyingtonTD pic.twitter.com/PGLK6GZxqi
— Chris Fowler (@cbfowler) November 19, 2015
4. Georgia coach Mark Richt vs. The Hot Seat: Yes, Nick Chubb’s season-ending injury changed everything. Yes, 5-star QB recruit Jacob Eason is on the way. No, none of that matters for Richt if he loses to a Georgia Southern program that certainly is capable after nearly upsetting N.C. State and Georgia Tech last season, beating Florida in 2013 and thoroughly impressing Saban and his national champion Crimson Tide in 2011.
Richt on Ga. Southern: "I don't know what the fan base thinks about this game…I can promise you we'll get tested as much as any (game)."
— Marc Weiszer (@marcweiszer) November 17, 2015
Back to Richt and the dangers of this game: They’re already debating whether 9 wins will be enough for Richt to keep his job.
6. Vanderbilt’s D Line vs. Texas A&M O Line: Vandy surprisingly allowed 225 rushing yards last week to Kentucky. That was just the second time this season an opponent cracked 160.
Texas A&M, with its ongoing QB issues, has leaned on its run game recently, posting a pair of 300-yard efforts in its past three games after being held to 90 combined in losses to Alabama and Ole Miss.
The run surge coincides with the Aggies going to dual-threat QB Kyler Murray, who ran for 156 yards against South Carolina.
Murray’s running ability has freed up Tra Carson, who has responded with three consecutive 100-yard efforts, the longest streak in his career.
7. Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott vs. Arkansas QB Brandon Allen: The over/under is 57.5, which seems low considering these clearly are two of the three best QBs in the SEC. Prescott ranks second in passing yards (2,651) and third in TD passes (18). Allen ranks third in passing yards (2,617) and second in TD passes (22).
Bielema: Dak Prescott is an incredible player. A tough, tough kid. They live off his energy and mental and physical stamina.
— Razorback Football (@RazorbackFB) November 16, 2015
Arkansas is averaging 50 points in its past four games. Allen has thrown 12 TDs to just 2 INTs in that stretch.
"Arkansas is really throwing the ball at a high level and Brandon Allen does a great job of distributing the football." – DM
— MSU Football (@HailStateFB) November 18, 2015
Alabama beat up Prescott last week, sacking him 9 times, but he’s given just about everybody else fits.
Dak Prescott was essentially sacked once for every five times he dropped back to pass.
— Aaron Suttles (@AaronSuttles) November 15, 2015
8. Tennessee QB Josh Dobbs vs. Missouri’s front seven: One opponent — Vandy — has run for more than 150 yards against Missouri this season. And the Commodores needed 49 carries to get it done.
Just one QB (Dak Prescott) has thrown for more than 250 yards against Missouri — and he needed 41 attempts.
All of which means: Dobbs has his work cut out for him. He was particularly dangerous against Florida and Georgia, topping 100 yards rushing each time, but has been limited to just 108 in the four games since.
Stop Dobbs. Stop Tennessee.
Pinkel: Dobbs is an impressive QB. Also lauds RB/WR and Vols' special teams.
— Tod Palmer (@todpalmer) November 16, 2015
9. Florida coach Jim McElwain vs. the iPad (modern bulletin board): After beating South Carolina last weekend, McElwain was asked about the Owls. “We got a team coming in that’s full of a bunch of Florida guys that wishes they were Gators,” he told reporters.
It’s true. McElwain said there are 53 players in this game who went to the same high schools.
This intrastate game is no different from others involving mid-majors and Power 5s, and little brother always brings a little bit more emotion to the fight.
10. Florida vs. College Football Playoff Selection Committee: The Gators are in a no-win situation Saturday against lowly Florida Atlantic. The 2-8 Owls can’t help the Gators’ strength of schedule, and a poll drop from No. 8 seems likely if Treon Harris tosses two more interceptions.
Covering the 31-point spread seems like a fair objective.